Do Vaccines Work? Well, Yes! Naturally…

This is James Gillray’s 1802 cartoon, “The Cow-Pock?or?the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!” This is one of the original anti-vaxxer cartoons, satirizing Dr. Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox to vaccinate against smallpox. Image from Wikimedia.

Between the years 1700 and 1800, smallpox would claim 60 million Europeans, five ruling monarchs, and 80% of all children afflicted with the disease. It killed three times more people the Black Death and AIDS combined.? Conquistador Hern?n Cort’s credited it for wiping out whole populations in the New World, remarking that it killed more Aztecs than his own cannons.

Image from Wikimedia

Prior to 1796, the treatment for smallpox was to inhale dried smallpox scabs or getting infected with fluid from a victim’s pustule. The odds of getting infected with a live version of smallpox was dangerous, to say the least. Then a miracle happened in 1796, when Dr. Edward Jenner developed a breakthrough treatment for smallpox.

After a local smallpox outbreak, Jenner found that the people who worked with cattle never contracted the disease. When a milkmaid came to him with a case of cowpox, he decided to do an experiment. Dr. Jenner took a sample from her sores and injected it into his gardener’s son, James (with permission, of course).

James came down with cowpox, but never became very ill. Six-weeks later, Dr. Jenner infected James with smallpox. To everyone’s relief, James remained healthy. Thus, the first vaccine (from the Latin word for cowpox, vaccinia) was a revolutionary success.

Edward Jenner vaccinating his own child. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Image from Wikimedia

The enthusiasm over new vaccines has waned since then. In 1998, a study linked vaccines with autism, inciting many “anti-vaxxer” parents to forgo treatments. These fears have been brutally debunked as a fraud so many times, I will not reiterate the argument here; a simple web search (like this one here) will satisfy that. I wish to provide a new argument: that vaccines are the MOST natural system for preventing illness.

They say there are more than 200 cold viruses in the world, and “you never catch the same one twice.” There is a reason for that. The human immune system functions, in part, as an adaptive system. When the body gets exposed to a virus, the body develops antibodies to fight off the illness. Once the body recovers, it is thenceforth IMMUNE from that strain. By exposing a patient to a “dead” strain of a particular virus, vaccines utilize the body’s NATURAL system to resist that virus, with less of a risk of coming down with the illness as a whole. This program was brought to you by millions of years of human evolution, centuries of human ingenuity, and the breakthroughs that only the scientific method can foster. And, just as evolution has been proven by science, so has the use of vaccines.

Thanks to vaccines and our adaptive immune system, the world has been smallpox-free since 1980. There are only two known living samples of smallpox virus, and they are locked away in controlled environments. Despite the many other successes vaccines have brought us, far too many people see vaccines as a threat. Even though no medical treatment is free of risks, vaccines are without a doubt the most effective (and natural) system we know.

Click here to read my thoughts on Homeopathy, a so-called alternative “medicine” that many rely on as an alternative to vaccinations.

Clayton Ousley lives in Ann Arbor, MI with his beautiful daughter, Charlotte (a German Shepherd/Alaskan Malamute mix). He has a BA in History and Intelligence Studies from Notre Dame College, and is currently working on his MA in Military History from Norwich University. He enjoys playing his bagpipes, reading, hiking, and cooking ethnic foods.